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Born in 1807, the son of a farmer at Blackhouse, near Peterhead, William Brand was initially educated in parish schools before being apprenticed to Writers (solicitors) in Peterhead then in Edinburgh where he entered legal classes at the University. Having completed his legal education he became a Writer to the Signet in 1834 and a partner in the Edinburgh firm of Scott, Findlay and Balderston. In 1846 he was elected Secretary to the Union Bank of Scotland, a position he held until his death. In 1863 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Whilst completing his medical degree at Edinburgh University, Brand developed a strong interest in botany, accompanying Professor Robert Graham (Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Professor of Botany at Edinburgh University) on collecting excursions throughout Scotland during 1830 and 1831. In 1836, when meetings were being held to discuss the creation of a new Botanical Society, Brand was there. He attended the inaugural meeting of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh on the 8th February 1836 making him a founding member and also logical choice for its first Treasurer. He developed ideas for a number of Society publications, devised methods for arranging and cataloguing the Society’s herbarium and collected a significant herbarium collection himself, discovering several new plants including <i>Astragalus alpinus</i> in the process.
He was also a member of the Botanical Society Club, an offshoot of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh initially comprising its original members, becoming its Secretary. At the last Club meeting he attended, in June 1869, he complained of feeling ill. After a couple of months he recovered enough to visit relatives in Peterhead, but became ill again on his return home, dying on October 15th 1869. He left behind a widow, a son and two daughters.
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